Smithswood Firs last game was December 28th when they beat Burntwood Town 3-1 at the Mackadown. Since then they have had games postponed against Inkberrow, FC Stratford and Chelmsley Town. This meant it had been four weeks since they last played a competitive game and due to work commitments they had only trained twice during this period so the worry was always going to be match fitness as the game went further.
Preparation wasn’t ideal for the away team as they had three players turn up late and two not turn up at all which meant Paul Ryder had to change things around a few times and the warm up wasn’t the best with players turning up late.
All that aside though, Smithswood had a strong starting eleven and went with the following;
Duffy, Clarke, Thompson, Leek
Weeks, Craig Thomas (Capt.), Curtis Thomas
Anderson, Hulme, Charlton
Subs: Russell, Sayer, Richardson, Cottrill, Williams
The first half was a tight affair as both teams battled to gain the advantage and cancelled each other out. Paul Ryder was pleased with some of the football his team played as they controlled and passed the ball around the midfield brilliantly, they just couldn’t break down the home sides solid defence. Both teams had limited chances and were restricted to the odd shot which never troubled either keeper.
The turning point in the game was on the hour as the away teams lack of match fitness started to take its toll and their concentration gifted the home side chances which they took with their quality. The first goal looked like a big boot but Ross Casey found himself in the area and headed calmly over the advancing Harry Gardiner to put the home side into the lead. Things didn’t get any better for Smithswood as they conceded three in the last ten minutes of the game as they tired and lost concentration.
A short back pass gifted Chelmsley their next goal which Tom Ellis pounced on and made sure he punished the away side. Ryder switched to three at the back to go in search of a goal with the worry always being Chris Lloyd getting too much space on the left, but they had to gamble as the team was struggling having not played for so long and better to lose by 3 or 4 than not have a go in the cup. It was “Lloydy” who got the last two goals as he punished the defence with clinical finishing for the first and then went on a mazy run for his second to finish calmly as Smithswood had nothing left to give.
Credit goes to Chelmsley Wood for taking the chances the away side gifted them and being clinical in front of goal. It could have gone either way after the first hour but fitness played a big part and then Chelmsley showed how calm they can be in front of goal to finish the job.
We wish them all the best in the next round and for the rest of the season.
Focus gets back to the league next and the game against Chelmsley will certainly help with fitness so it was not without its positives. Bold mere Sports & Social Falcons are up next at the Mackadown, another local rival who always prove to be tough opponents. Kick-off is 2pm and will be the last one before the times switch back to 3pm in February.